The Damaging Impacts of Disregarding Hearing Loss

Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

The unfortunate reality is, as you age, your hearing starts to go. Roughly 38 million individuals in the U.S. deal with some kind of hearing loss, though since hearing loss is anticipated as we get older, many choose to ignore it. Ignoring hearing loss, however, can have serious negative side effects on a person’s whole well-being beyond how well they hear.

Why is the choice to just cope with hearing loss one that many people consider? According to an AARP study, hearing loss is, thought to be by a third of seniors, a concern that is minimal and can be handled easily, while cost was a worry for more than half of those who participated in the study. The consequences of ignoring hearing loss, however, can become a great deal higher because of conditions and side effects that come with leaving it untreated. What are the most common complications of ignoring hearing loss?

Fatigue

The dots will not be connected by most people from fatigue to hearing loss. Instead, they will attribute fatigue to several different factors, like slowing down due to aging or a side-effect of medication. The truth is that the less you can hear, the more your body struggles to compensate for it, leaving you feeling tired. Recall how tired you were at times in your life when your brain had to be totally concentrated on a task for long time periods. Once you’re done, you likely feel drained. The same thing takes place when you struggle to hear: when there are missing spots in conversation, your brain has to work extra hard to fill in the missing information – which is often made even more difficult when there’s lots of background noise – and consumes valuable energy just trying to process the conversation. This kind of chronic fatigue can affect your health by leaving you too tired to take care of yourself, skipping out on things like going to the gym or cooking healthy meals.

Decline of Brain Function

A number of studies conducted by Johns Hopkins University connected hearing loss to reduced cognitive functions , increased loss of brain tissue, and dementia. While these links are correlations, instead of causations, it’s theorized by researchers that, again, the more often you need to fill in the conversational blanks, which uses up mental resources, the less you have to give attention to other things including comprehension and memorization. And declining brain function, as we age is, directly linked to an additional draw on our cognitive resources. Besides that, it’s believed that the process of mental decline can be slowed and mental fitness can be preserved by sustained exchange of ideas, usually through conversation. Luckily, cognitive specialist and hearing specialist can use the recognized connection between cognitive decline and hearing loss to collaborate to carry out research and develop treatments that are encouraging in the near future.

Mental Health Problems

The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 senior citizens who were dealing with some form of hearing loss and found that people who neglected their condition were more likely to also suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and paranoia, which negatively affected their emotional and social well-being. It makes sense that there’s a connection between hearing loss and mental health problems since, in family and social situations, people who suffer from hearing loss have a hard time interacting with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation, which can ultimately lead to depression. If left untreated, anxiety and even paranoia can appear as a result of these feelings of solitude and exclusion. Hearing aids have been shown to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should talk to a mental health professional.

Heart Disease

Our bodies are one interconnected machine – if one component stops working like it is supposed to, it may have a detrimental affect on another seemingly unrelated part. This is the way it is with our hearts and ears. As a case in point, if blood flow from the heart to the inner ear is restricted, hearing loss could be the result. Diabetes, which is also connected to heart disease, can impact the inner ear’s nerve endings and cause information sent to the brain from the ear to become scrambled. If heart disease is ignored serious or even potentially fatal consequences can occur. So if you have noticed some hearing loss and have a history of heart disease or heart disease in your family you should contact both a hearing and a cardiac specialist in order to determine whether your hearing loss is connected to a heart condition.

If you deal with hearing loss or are going through any of the adverse effects listed above, please reach out to us so we can help you live a healthier life.

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